THE ORIGIN OF HUMANITY
In The Beginning – 1
Pastor Steve Dow
As we begin a New Year everyone tends to be making resolutions and looking forward to the New Year. It is a hopeful time. It is a time filled with expectancy. We want this year to be a better year. We are hoping and praying for better health, for closer relationships, for more money and for higher levels of security. But sometimes in order to move forward you have to look backward. If hindsight is twenty-twenty as they say, then there can be no better way to chart the course for the future than by looking to the past. As we look back on the past we gain perspective. We learn from our past failures and mistakes so that we won’t repeat them. They also say that if you don’t learn from the past, you are doomed to repeat it. And so I think the reason that history all too often repeats itself is because we all too often don’t learn from it.
So what are we going to do about all of this? We are going to begin the New Year by looking back to the beginning. What can we learn from our first parents and their children? What lesson can be gleaned from their making, from their marriage, from their miscues and even from their murder? These are the issues that we will be looking at over the next few weeks as we go back and look at what happened “In The Beginning” so that we can all have a good ending.
This morning we are going to be looking back to what happened “In The Beginning” so that we can learn about “The Origin of Humanity.” We are going to be looking at the creation of Adam and Eve – our first parents from whom every one of us here today are descended. This is affects every single one of us. This isn’t irrelevant – we’re talking about our family history here! And, yes, it does make a big difference where we come from.
This does make a difference because if we all really believe that we came from monkeys, then we will all act like monkeys. After all, we’re just animals too! I think we can see this reflected in the fact that since evolution has been introduced into the schools and prayer removed our moral values have been going down the toilet as a nation. Things that would have been scandalous a couple of generations ago are now just being winked at or laughed at or even worse accepted and endorsed. The problem is that we have been sold a bill of goods that says that we aren’t special – that we are no different than any other animal.
As an example of this nonsense let me share with you a couple of news items I ran across recently (11/29). A 50-something-year-old man raped a 9-year-old little girl. The man was convicted of the crime and the prosecutor asked the judge to sentence this man to 15 years in jail. The judge let him off with only probation! Meanwhile in England a couple of brothers have been charged with abuse. And what was their abuse? Molesting a young child? Assaulting a minority? No. They let there pet dog get too fat! This is no joke! They are seriously being tried for abuse because their dog is too fat.
This kind of foolishness is the result of evolutionary teaching when it is taken to its logical conclusion. Evolution means that an animal – a dog – has just as many rights as I do. In fact one activist has recently argued that calling them dogs is offensive and so we should start calling them – get this – canine-Americans. I know you think I’m joking, but I’m not. This is real and it is really destroying the family and the faith we hold dear. I guess this just proves that you really can make a monkey out of a man, but you can’t make a man out of a monkey!
Well, let’s move away from this nonsense and gain some common sense as we look back to what happened in the beginning.
Genesis 1:26-28, “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”
Let’s look at some things that we can learn about ourselves from these verses.
1. EVERY PERSON IS A SPECIAL BEING.
Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings…’ ”
We see here that humanity is special on a number of levels. First, when God created everything else He just did it. He just said, “Let there be...” and there it was. But when it came time to create humans God convened a conference to discuss it. Who did He have this conference with? The angels? The animals? Of course not! He holds conference with the members of the Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Note that God said “Let us make human beings…” Now I am well aware of the fact that some have tried to dismiss this as merely being the plural majesty, but there is little if any evidence for this being used by God or by the kings of Israel.
John Gill says, “…a consultation is held among the divine Persons about the formation of him; not because of any difficulty attending it, but as expressive of his honour and dignity;”
And Matthew Henry wrote, “God himself not only undertakes to make him, but is pleased so to express himself as if he called a council to consider of the making of him: Let us make man. The three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, consult about it and concur in it,”
Now, of course, all three members of the Trinity were involved in all of creation, but it none-the-less shows the importance of mankind that there was a consultation of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to plan and perform our creation. So we are not special only because we have been made by God because everything that exists was also made by God. No, we are special because God made us special as the crowning achievement of His creation. In fact, we have God’s own testimony that we are special. If you look back through Genesis chapter 1, you will find that after God creates something He will stand back and check it out and then He will pronounce that it was good. Over and over you will find this pronouncement: “And God saw that it was good.” But then we come to the sixth day and mankind is created and the pattern of pronouncement is changed from “it was good” to “it was very good.” Oh, yes, there was something special about this creature called man and God knew it.
So the lesson to be learned is this: Don’t let anyone cause you to devalue yourself. They may devalue you, but don’t let them deceive you into devaluing yourself. The scientist may look at you and see an upright mammal, but God looks at you and sees someone special. Whose word are you going to take? I urge you to take God at His word because when you do you will never see yourself the same again. You are a person of immeasurable worth and value and dignity because you were made by the hand of God!
Warren Wiersbe said in his autobiography, Be Myself, “If life is to have meaning, and if God’s will is to be done, all of us have to accept who we are and what we are, give it back to God, and thank Him for the way He made us. What I am is God’s gift to me; what I do with it is my gift to Him.” Did you catch what he said there? He implies that if we don’t accept that we were made by God, then life has no meaning – no purpose. And that is true for if the evolutionist is right, then we are nothing more than the random result of meaningless mutations. We have come from nowhere and we are going nowhere. However, if we were designed by God, then we must have been made for a reason – for a purpose.
In the early part of the third century, a critic of the church criticized Christianity saying, "They take in just anybody. They have no standards." But he missed the point. He was the one using the wrong standards. According to God’s standards, each of us is truly someone special. And so here is the truth of the matter – God made you a special person and God made you for a special purpose.
2. EVERY PERSON IS A SPIRITUAL BEING.
Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make humans beings in our image, in our likeness…’ ”
This means that there is more to humans than just that which meets the eye. There is more that separates mankind from monkey than just the opposable thumb. T. S. Eliot said, "...There’s something in us, in all of us which isn’t just heredity, but something unique. Something we have been from eternity. Something... straight from God."
It is said of all of the plants and animals that God created that they reproduced after their kind. But when God made Adam and Eve he reproduced Himself after His own kind. He created them in His own image and in His own likeness. Now some have mistakenly taught that “image” refers to our physicality and “likeness” refers to our spirituality. However, that simply cannot be the case because the Bible teaches that God is Spirit and being a spirit means that he has no body so it follows that our bodies can’t be like his. Rather the correct view is that these two terms mean the same thing. God is just repeating himself with another word in order to emphasize the point. Anytime something is repeated in scripture you should sit up and take note because here is something that God doesn’t want you to miss. And there is good reason God doesn’t want you to miss this. All of the animals that God made were also physical, but only humans were spiritual.
Matthew Henry wrote: “That man was made in God’s image and after his likeness, two words to express the same thing and making each other the more expressive; image and likeness denote the likest image, the nearest resemblance of any of the visible creatures. Man was not made in the likeness of any creature that went before him, but in the likeness of his Creator;”
And what exactly does this likeness entail? We have already indicated that it doesn’t involve our physical nature, but here is what it does involve in the words of Adam Clarke:
Now, as the Divine Being is infinite, he is neither limited by parts, nor definable by passions; therefore he can have no corporeal image after which he made the body of man. The image and likeness must necessarily be intellectual; his mind, his soul, must have been formed after the nature and perfections of his God. The human mind is still endowed with most extraordinary capacities; it was more so when issuing out of the hands of its Creator. God was now producing a spirit, and a spirit, too, formed after the perfections of his own nature. God is the fountain whence this spirit issued, hence the stream must resemble the spring which produced it. God is holy, just, wise, good, and perfect; so must the soul be that sprang from him: there could be in it nothing impure, unjust, ignorant, evil, low, base, mean, or vile. It was created after the image of God; and that image, St. Paul tells us, consisted in righteousness, true holiness, and knowledge, Eph_4:24 Col_3:10. Hence man was wise in his mind, holy in his heart, and righteous in his actions.
And so while the evolutionist says that we are just animals and, therefore, there is nothing wrong with indulging in animal-like behavior, God is showing us that we were created on a higher level. And it is to this higher level of living that we are called to return to through salvation. This is what Paul is calling us to when he gives us this instruction in Ephesians 4:22-24, “You were taught…to put off your old self, which is being corrupted…and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” And again in Colossians 3:9-10, “Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”
And so there you have exactly what Adam Clarke had said: “Man was wise in his mind, holy in his heart, and righteous in his actions.” That is what we were and that is what can be again through Jesus Christ. How can this be? Paul says that we have to first put off our “old self” – that is in the likeness of Adam’s fallen nature – and put on the new self” – that is in the likeness of Christ. How is this done? Through repentance we put off our old self – our old, fallen, sinful nature which we inherited from our father Adam. And then through faith we put on the new self – who we are in the Lord Jesus Christ who took our sins upon himself and died in our place on the cross. You may not now be what you should be, but you can be if you want to be.
3. EVERY PERSON IS A SUPERIOR BEING.
I know that I have already said this, but let me say it again – Mankind is the crowning achievement of God’s creation. We are without apology superior to all of the animals and plants that God created.
Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness: so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ ”
Adam Clarke says, “God created man capable of governing the world, and when fitted for the office, he fixed him in it.” He then went on to call mankind the “masterpiece of his workmanship.” And Matthew Henry says, “As [man] has the government of the inferior creatures, he is, as it were, God’s representative, or viceroy, upon earth; they [the animals or “inferior creatures”] are not capable of fearing and serving God, therefore God has appointed them to fear and serve man.”
Listen to the parable of Eddie the Eagle:
Once upon a time there was a baby eagle called Eddie. Eddie had entered this world by violently forcing his way out of an eggshell, to discover himself sharing a nest with his brothers and sisters at the top of a very tall tree. One day a strong wind blew up, and the nest was rocked wildly from side to side, at one point rocking so far that poor little Eddie was tipped out. Not yet old enough t fly he fell down through the branches, and amazingly right into a rabbit burrow at the base of the tree. When he got to his feet Eddie found himself among a group of bunnies that had been born about the same time he was.
Now rabbits may be good breeders, but they’re not exceptionally smart, so no one realized Eddie was in fact a baby eagle. They all assumed he was just an odd-looking rabbit. So Eddie was adopted into the family and grew up learning to live as a rabbit. He hopped and jumped, lived in the family burrow and lived on a diet of grass and lettuce.
Of course, all his life Eddie struggled with a sense of terrible inferiority. He didn’t look like the other rabbits, he was always the last one chosen when it came to hopping games, and he was often sick from eating grass.
Then one day his life changed. Eddie and his rabbit siblings were out in a field playing, when a dark shadow spread across the ground. The rabbits looked up and there, hurtling towards them, was a mighty eagle. With squeals of fear the rabbits ran as fast as they could for the undergrowth. Eddie knew he was a goner. He couldn’t run as fast as the others and saw them all reach safety while he was still hopping like crazy out in the open. The mighty eagle drew closer and closer, until Eddie could feel its shadow right above him. Eddie braced himself for the inevitable when he heard the eagle cry, "What are you doing hopping around on the ground like a rabbit?! You’re an eagle. Spread your wings and fly!"
Startled by the shock of what had happened, confused by the eagles words, Eddie started to move those useless things at his side. He stretched them out and began flapping until he found himself lifting up from the ground, and then soaring effortlessly through the heavens. That day Eddie discovered he wasn’t made to hop along the ground but to soar through the skies.
We, like Eddie the Eagle, have all grown up in a society that has taught us that we are something less than the magnificent creatures that God has in fact made us to be. Not realizing our full potential we have in too many cases been content to hop along through life rather than spreading our wings and soaring through the skies. You are a superior being!
4. EVERY PERSON IS A SEXUAL BEING.
Genesis 1:27, “So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
When God created humans he created them in two distinct categories based upon gender – He made them male and female. God created men and women to be different, but equal.
Someone has put together a “Top Ten List” that really highlights the differences between men and women called “You might be a male if…”
10. You know stuff about tanks.
9. Someone forgets to invite you to something and he can still be your friend.
8. You can drop by to see a friend with bringing a little gift.
7. Your pals never trap you with, “So…notice anything different?”
6.There is always a game on somewhere.
5.Another guy shows up at the same party wearing the same outfit, and you become lifelong buddies.
4.Something mechanical doesn’t work, and you bash it with a hammer and throw it across the room.
3.You have one wallet, one pair of shoes and one color for all seasons.
2.You can do your nails with a pocketknife.
1.You can go to the bathroom without a support group.
Men and women were certainly created different and we can laugh about our differences, but we must also enjoy our differences while recognizing that we were created equal.
Genesis 1:28, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ ”
Notice that the “them” God is referring to here is both Adam and Eve. Both Adam and Eve were to fill, subdue and rule over the earth. They were to rule and reign together as coregents over all of the rest of God’s creation.
However, that changed after they had fallen into sin by eating of the forbidden fruit. After they had sinned they were punished and note especially what God said to Eve. Genesis 3:16, “To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’ ”
The words used here for “rule” and in 1:28 for are basically synonyms. They are both defined as “to rule, to have dominion.” Notice that initially Eve was not included as one who was under the rule or dominion of Adam, but was rather ruling at his side. But as a result of the fall Eve now falls under the dominion of her husband. The primary difference being that the word used of man’s dominion over creation also carried with it the meaning “to subjugate; to tread down.” Although that was not to be applied to his rule over his wife we none-the-less see that this is what has happened more often than not throughout history.
We have seen this curse played out throughout history in that women have often been treated very poorly by men and regarded as a little less than human and little more than property. Women have generally been ruled over by men in that they have been denied citizenship, the right to vote, the privilege an education and opportunity to own property. In Jesus own day there was a prayer prayed by Jewish men that went like this: “Thank you God for not making me an unbeliever, a slave or a woman.”
And in spite of all of its supposed advances the evolutionary theory actually has served to promote the idea of male superiority. In an article titled “The History of the Teaching of Human Female Inferiority in Darwinism” Jerry Bergman says, “A review of the most prominent late 19th century writings by biologists focusing on Charles Darwin reveals that a major plank of evolution theory was the belief that women were intellectually and physically inferior to men.” He went on to say that the evolutionists taught that “males evolved more than females.”
The good news for women today and for all of us is that the results of the curse have been reversed. Related to this particular issue we see this clearly in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In general terms we see this reversal also in Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole,’ ”. Thank God that through Jesus Christ the curse has been reversed!
In closing I would like to share the following story of a man who computed his taxes and discovered that he owed $3,407. He packaged up his payment and included this letter:
Enclosed is my tax return and payment. Please take note of the attached article from the USA Today newspaper. In the article, you will see that the Pentagon is paying $171.50 for hammers and NASA has paid $600.00 for a toilet seat.
Please find enclosed my payment four toilet seats (value $2,400) and six hammers (value $1,029). This brings my total payment to $3,429.00. Please note the overpayment of $22.00 and apply it to the "Presidential Election Fund," as noted on my return. Might I suggest you the send the above mentioned fund a "1.5 inch screw." (See attached article...HUD paid $22.00 for a 1.5 inch Phillips Head Screw.)
It has been a pleasure to pay my taxes this year, and I look forward to paying them again next year.
A Satisfied Taxpayer
Well, as we have started this New Year we all know that tax time is just around the corner – April will be here before you know it. But I would not recommend trying the above approach unless you want to spend some quality time hanging out with Wesley Snipes in stripes!
Actually the point of me telling you that story is that the value of something is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it. This past Christmas season the new Playstation video games came out and were retailing for around $600. However, people were buying them and then immediately putting them up for auction on Ebay and I had heard that one sold for as much as $21,000.
So how do you determine the value of a human being? How do you determine your worth? You determine your worth by what someone was willing to pay for you. And as we saw moments ago Jesus was willing to become a curse for you. We also see in Matthew 20:28, “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
You have incredible value and worth because you were created by God and because of the lengths God was willing to go to in order to redeem you. So will you put off the old man through repentance and put on the Lord Jesus Christ through faith? If you will, you are in for one incredible New Year!
SMALL GROUP BIBLE STUDY:
“In The Beginning” - 1
How many children do you have? Which one do you think looks the most like you? Which one acts the most like you? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
1. Read Genesis 1:26 and answer the following questions:
a) Why does God use the plural form: “Let us make human beings in our image?” See also Job 33:4 and Colossians 1:16.
b) What is the image of God and in what sense do we bear that image or likeness?
c) Based on this verse how would you define Adam and Eve’s job description?
2. Read Genesis 1:27 and answer the following questions:
a) This verse clearly teaches that both male and female were created in the image of God. How do we reconcile this with Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 11:7? Was Paul mistaken? referring to the results of the fall? referring to something that was cultural? Defend your answer.
3. Read Genesis 1:28 and answer the following questions:
a) What does it mean to be blessed by God?
b) Should we think of this as being connected to being reproductive? Why or why not?
c) In light of God’s command to multiply how should we view those who are incapable of reproduction?
1.In what sense was the image of God lost in the Fall? And to what extent was it retained even after the Fall? Can we recover this? If so, how?
2.Adam and Eve were to rule over the earth. How does this effect your view of environmentalism and animal rights? To what extent should we as Christians take up these causes?
3. How does this passage influence your thinking on the role of women in the church? in society? in the home? in the work place?
4. In light of God’s command to fill the earth what should we make of those who say we must reduce the population? Have we overfilled the earth? Are there acceptable forms of population control? If so, what are they and where do we draw the line?